Barriers to Group and Team Problem Solving

A number of things can keep teams and small groups from working to their full potential. Barriers or factors are a big roadblock that might keep a discussion between group members from achieving a goal. If people can begin to realize exactly what these barriers are and how to spot them, then you can begin to remove them from your team or group.

A barrier that can cause conflict in a small group is lack of structure. In this setting, group members desire specific direction that can help them come to a needed conclusion in a meeting or discussion. With a structure in place, the group can focus on the issues of a discussion and come to a consensus, both quickly and effectively.

I have had an opportunity to incorporate a structured job description database for a work force. This helped to establish guidelines and a focus on job duties for each position. When distributed to the departments, each member knew what they needed to perform the duties of the job. The job descriptions put structure in the way business was performed within the departments and the company.

Another barrier to problem solving is poor communication. This is a barrier that can wreak havoc for every group member that is involved. Some facets of poor communication are misunderstanding, inattentiveness and dominance that can be made by one or more group members. Ineffective communication will definitely be a negative against any discussion or meeting.

Once again, with the same company, I experienced this barrier in problem solving with a former employer. I had been involved in making a transition of employees to a new company. The corporate management and department management did not communicate well. Not only did they not communicate well, they did not communicate with each other. Messages were expressed and discussed with other employees about situations with other employees. These situations were approached third party and caused even more problems.

Poor communication by no communication would be a problem solving killer. A negative attitude will also be a barrier to problem solving in small groups. If members are not flexible and open minded during a discussion or meeting, then a balanced opinion can not be produced. Some group members may be more focused on the solution before the problem is defined.

I had also experienced negative attitudes in the transition of a new company coming in. The employees that had years invested in the company were most definitely displaying negative attitudes. This made it harder to have productive group meetings as we made changes during the transition period. Arguments were made before hearing all of an idea and this made for longer meetings. This in turn created new barriers and made other employees feel uncomfortable.

When having a team or small group meet for problem solving, it is very important to have a goal or agenda. This in turn will help to avoid most barriers and keep the group focused and organized. Always try clarifying what the group is trying to achieve and give all members time to participate and give their views and feelings. This path, in the end, will help to keep focus, structure, and communication open for all members.